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Rays journal: Rays break through in Kansas City, blast Royals

Kevin Kiermaier collects high-fives in the dugout after scoring in the first-inning on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead. Kiermaier had led off the game with a double and advanced on two flyouts.
Kevin Kiermaier collects high-fives in the dugout after scoring in the first-inning on Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly, giving the Rays a 1-0 lead. Kiermaier had led off the game with a double and advanced on two flyouts.
Published Aug. 29, 2017

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Rays did a good job battling the Royals and history Monday night.

Having lost eight straight dating to April 2014 and 15 of their previous 16 games at Kauffman Stadium, the Rays talked a lot before the game about needing to get over what seemed to be becoming a mental hurdle as much as anything.

And they did that by getting physical, pounding out six runs in the third inning and rolling to a 12-0 win. Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison hit three-run homers and Wilson Ramos a two-run shot to highlight a box score that included nine extra-base hits.

"Great win," manager Kevin Cash said. "We talked about how tough it is for us to come in here and find a way to win, and to separate a game. We haven't done that in a long time. … It seemed like everybody kind of played their role."

They pitched pretty well, too, RHPs Austin Pruitt and Matt Andriese combining for a two-hitter, albeit against a Royals team that not only has lost five straight but has gone a staggering 43 straight innings without a run, five shy of the MLB mark shared by the 1906 Philadelphia A's and 1968 Cubs.

Pruitt, the rookie making what seems likely to be his last turn in the rotation barring trade or injury, came up big, allowing just one hit and one walk over six innings and striking out six. "He was awesome," Cash said, joking, "If he pitches a little better maybe he goes back out for the seventh." Andriese, activated unexpectedly off the DL to pitch in relief, finished.

The game also had implications in the playoff race. The Rays improved to 66-67 in winning their sixth in eight games, moving past the Royals to 21/2 games out of the second wild-card spot.

The Rays got off quick as Kevin Kiermaier blooped a double on Ian Kennedy's first pitch and came around on two flyouts,

They flexed their muscle in the third. Adeiny Hechavarria doubled and Kiermaier walked ahead of Duda, who hit his eighth homer since his July 27 acquisition from the Mets and 25th overall.

Doubles by Evan Longoria and Morrison — just missing his 32nd homer — produced another run. Two outs later, Ramos, continuing his hot streak, crushed his sixth homer. Morrison added to that in the ninth with his third homer in two days.

Honeywell suspended for "disciplinary reasons"

Top RHP prospect Brent Honeywell has been angling for a promotion from Triple-A Durham to the majors this season. But Monday the team suspended Honeywell for four games for what they are calling "disciplinary reasons." The Tampa Bay Times heard from two parties with knowledge of the situation that the suspension was the result of an internal incident that involved being "disrespectful" to a member of the organization. Honeywell has posted an 11-8, 3.80 record in 23 starts for the Bulls and in July was voted MVP of the All-Star Futures Game.

Pitching shuffle

Andriese drove from Durham to Charlotte on Sunday night expecting to make the final start of his rehab assignment on Monday and rejoin the Rays later this week. But the Rays changed those plans, instead summoning Andriese back to the majors, figuring he would help them more pitching in relief of Pruitt against the Royals to protect their overworked bullpen than throwing in a minor-league game.

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"Where we were with our bullpen, the workload they've had over the last couple games, where we felt it was, it probably was in our best interest to get Andriese up here," Cash said. "We need to give those guys in the bullpen a little bit of a blow.''

The Rays had some depth with rookie RHP Chih-Wei Hu but figured Andriese offered more, so Hu was optioned back to Durham. To clear space on the 40-man roster, Triple-A INF Taylor Featherson was designated for assignment.

Andriese, out since June with a hip injury, said he welcomed the early return after the extended absence. "(Rehab) was pretty long and grueling, I wasn't able to do a lot of stuff for six-seven weeks," he said. "Once I was fully healthy it kind of sped up the process. There's little aches and pains that take place in the off-season that kind of happened when I was doing that, but it's good to be back."

Miscellany

. The Rays clubhouse staff back at the Trop was working feverishly to pack up the players' lockers to make room for the arrival of the Rangers, who will use their clubhouse for the three-game series with the Astros starting tonight that was relocated from Houston. The Astros will use the visiting clubhouse, which they are more familiar and comfortable with. Dan Moeller's Trop grounds crew was also summoned to action.

. Morrison was excited to return to Kansas City, which he considers his hometown despite moving five times as a kid as a result of his dad's Coast Guard career. Morrison had plenty of family and friends on hand, with three grandparents among those expected.

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